Monday, December 3, 2012

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

"Why," I sometimes wonder, "are cigarettes still legal?"

When you look at the lengths that governments, prodded by the public health community, go through to make smoking expensive, inconvenient and socially undesirable, I don't understand why there isn't a greater push to simply ban them outright. Australia recently enacted rules that demand that all cigarettes be sold in generic packaging - the only adornment, if you can call it that, being government mandated graphic pictures of negative health outcomes caused by lighting up. Ostensibly, the rationale is to "de-glamorize" smoking. Personally, this makes little sense to me - I've seen plenty of cigarette packages in my day. I don't recall any of them being, in and of themselves, such compelling objects d'art that I was seized with the desire to tear them open and set the contents on fire. Apparently, I'm not the only one.

Anti-smoking lobbyists like Anne Jones know that packaging changes alone won't significantly curb smoking, especially among established smokers.
So... if the goal is to create a smoke-free society, why implement measures that don't work? Why not simply make the production, transport and sale of cigarettes illegal? It's been done for things much less dangerous than tobacco. I understand the idea that tobacco industry is powerful, and has a lot of money, lobbyists and the like, but there seems to be a strange disconnect in play. Public-health-minded governments want to reduce the rate of smoking - to zero to hear them say it, yet they don't want to be the ones who actually put an end to the practice, preferring to simply make smokers so miserable that they do it themselves. This desire to have things both ways doesn't strike me as really workable.

1 comment:

Isonomist said...

Cigarette prohibition would work about as well as alcohol and pot prohibition. I've spent the last two days being paid a lot of money to research COPD for a consumer web site (Pharma COPD medication). Because there's no cure for that either, that makes three industries I can think of that rely on the virtually limitless profit opportunities cigarette addiction affords: the tobacco companies, the cancer industry, and big pharma. It's a win/win/win. It's probably better to add a health care tax to the rest of the taxes, since no amount of moeny or begging make my husband quit smoking.